Sunspots are a curious matter for many scientists. This is especially the case when the sunspot shows a rapid increase in its diameter. One sunspot, called AR3038, grew to nearly twice the size of Earth. In a span of 24 hours, its diameter doubled to its size. The sunspot is 2.5 times the size of Earth and is directly on our planet. Its diameter is about 19,800 miles or 31,900 kilometers. The difference in its size was recorded from Sunday (June 19) to Monday night (June 20), as reported by SpaceWeather.com, which is a series of geomagnetic storms, solar flares and other cosmic weather events. Activity tracking website.
Dark regions on the Sun’s surface known as sunspots, where strong magnetic fields, generated by the flow of electric charges from the Sun’s plasma, tend to knot up before suddenly breaking apart. The energy released as a result causes coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are explosive jets of solar material, and solar flares, which are radiation explosions.
Spaceweather.com reports, “Yesterday, sunspot AR3038 was big. Today, it’s huge. The size of the fast-moving sunspot has doubled in just 24 hours. AR3038 has an unstable ‘beta-gamma’.” The magnetic field that harbors energy for M-sq. [medium-sized] solar flares, and it’s directly facing Earth.”
Sunspot AR3038 is located slightly north of the Sun’s equator. If the Sun’s spots face Earth from near the Sun’s equator, it takes about two weeks to travel around the Sun so that it no longer faces Earth.
The study of these sunspots is important because it provides insight into how solar flares work. When a solar flare hits Earth’s upper atmosphere, X-rays and ultraviolet radiation ionize the atoms. These can cause so-called radio blackouts in areas of Earth that are lit by the Sun when the flare hits the atmosphere.
Blackouts that occur during a flare are rated R1 to R5, with R5 being the most severe.
A recent Live Science report said that two solar flares in April and May induced R3 blackouts in the Atlantic Ocean, Australia and Asia. Solar flares typically travel an average distance of 93 million miles, yet take only eight minutes to reach us because they travel at the speed of light (150 million kilometers).